French President Emmanuel Macron said that “things were moving forward” after he held talks with US President Donald Trump at the G7 summit in Montreal, Canada.
Much of the discussion has been focused on Mr Trump’s threats to place tariffs on allies in the G7 like Canada.
“I think we had a very open and direct discussion this afternoon, we’ve always had this kind of discussion. And I think on trade, there is a critical path, there is a way to progress altogether,” Mr Macron said.
He added that he “saw the willingness on all the sides to find agreement and have a win-win approach for our people, our workers and our middle classes”. Mr Trump has been touting low unemployment rates in the US as a sign of success for his ‘America First’ doctrine and approach to re-negotiating many of the “unfair” multilateral agreements of which the US is part.
Mr Trump said his relationship with the French leader is “very special,” despite what looked like a rocky start at the beginning last year as the pair shared a white-knuckle handshake and tense glances.
There seemed to be a genuine bonhomie between the men who seem to be opposites in personality when Mr Macron and his wife Brigitte were hosted by Mr Trump and first lady Melania in Washington.
However, in the intervening six weeks Mr Trump – much to the chagrin of Mr Macron and every other G7 country – announced that the US would violate the Iran nuclear deal.
The historic six-party agreement offered concessions on sanctions to Tehran in exchange for Iran stopping development of its nuclear weapons programme. Instead, the US has renewed sanctions.
Mr Trump also slapped large tariffs on European aluminium and steel as an effort to boost those domestic sectors. He had proposed a 25 per cent tariff on steel and 10 per cent import duty on aluminium, and tweeted ahead of the formal announcement that “trade wars are good and easy to win”.
In the wake of the initial announcement, Brussels trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said certain goods like cranberries, Florida orange juice, Levi’s jeans, Harley-Davidson motorcycles, peanut butter, Kentucky bourbon and whiskey are on a provisional list of goods that could see high tariffs as a retaliation.
European Council President Donald Tusk has said Mr Trump’s stance on tariffs is dangerous and Canada called the tariffs “illegal” as the countries and Mexico are still renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) at the behest of Mr Trump.
The US president also caused waves when he unexpectedly called for the G7 to allow Russia back in, stating: “whether you like it or not – and it may not be politically correct – but we have a world to run”.
Mr Trump will remain in La Malbaie, Quebec for the rest of the summit and travels on to Singapore for the 12 June summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
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